MEMOIR UPDATE: Returning to a dormant manuscript

September 20, 2018

The memoir, Maintenance of Way, has sat on a digital shelf for quite some time.

We’re approaching two months since I finished a full draft, a remarkable amount of time. Why? Because I spent more than two years every. single. day working on it. To walk away from it took effort, even some fortitude, to accept how letting it go, to not look at it or try to rewrite it, was actually the best strategy.

Sometimes to be more creative you have to be less creative. Let the meadow grow on its own. Click To Tweet

As the calendar nears its next turn, as we anticipate a vibrant October here in Lancaster, I can feel the urge to return to the writing desk. Open the window, feel the Autumn breeze, and start chiseling away at a new draft, the one I hope to share with the world (or one that will carry us closer to that momentous event).

One of the advantages to taking time off is new sparks of creativity related to the manuscript. I’m contemplating now a whole different tone for the narrative, plus a few other tweaks in scene construction and theme to make it more readable, relatable, poignant.

If I’d tried to write a new draft as soon as I finished the previous one, I would of never seen these new ideas. They only ignited because I relaxed my mind, removed the pressure to keep working, and stayed away from the manuscript for an extended period of time.

And new ways of writing an old manuscript rejuvenates the excitement for writing.

It’s not time just yet.

One of the first things writers like me must to do is plot. See, I’m primarily a pantser, someone who has trouble avoiding the tempting spontaneity of instant writing gratification. For most of my career, I’ve avoiding prewriting or plotting, preferring instead to sit down, write, and see where the story takes me.

That’s proven disastrous. By plotting, by laying out each scene and noting the people who populate those scenes, by drawing out each person’s dramatic need, the rules of the world in which they live, and so on, I can better see how the individual parts fit into a whole. I can see where the narrative is leading, and where it will eventually end up.

This makes for not only better writing, but also, makes it more likely I will finish the manuscript.

So let the plotting begin this weekend.

Then, my wife and I are journeying to New York City for a little kid-free getaway. When we return, then I’ll open Scrivener and write the words I’m excited to read: “Chapter One.”

Dave Pidgeon is a writer and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. Contact him at

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